The HAWK Project

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

HAWK Project: Of Religion, Poverty and Witchcraft

Dear friend,
The advocacy is still on, thanks to you.

You can read one of our advocacy articles in The Nigerian Tribune of 20/05/09

Of religion, poverty and witchcraft

By Yemi Ademowo Johnson

The madness in the name of child-witches hunting and exorcising going on in Akwa Ibom State, needs the attention of every rational being. For as a newspaper editorial puts it, it is nothing but a 'debacle on child rights and a situation that has taken away self-esteem and psychologically demean many children in the state to the extent that they are far too conscious of every of their daily act everywhere and anywhere for fear of being tagged witches or wizards. This is totally unacceptable. Hence the question: who is a witch?

Also during the weekend, Yemi Ademowo Johnson, the International Coordinator for the HAWK Campaign was featured as a change influencer in The Guardian Newspapers (Life) of 22/02/09.

You see, with your support, we can move mountains!!


Yemi Ademowo J

Monday, February 16, 2009

HAWK Project: The Boy Jerry: Story of an Alleged Wizard

Dear friend,

Obviously we are all blind to seeing what the future holds in stock. What we are cocksure of and capable of peeping into are daily happenstances around us. We all sleep, wake and move about our routines with high hopes until something terrible dwarf that high hope. Here is the story of Jerry a former pupil of Aunty Mercy Nursery and Primary school who never dreamt that one day he will battle with the witchcraft stigma but rather focused on his dream of becoming a medical doctor.

His name is Jeremiah Victor Friday. He is 10 years old. Before being rescued to the Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) center where alleged child-witches live, Jerry has a life of his own, a caring mother, father and friends around ready and willing to offer their shoulders whenever the need arises.

All seems to be going on well for this young man until the wife of his Pastor declared him a wizard! And because his parents have been attending the City of Grace Mission International in Afaha Uqua for sometimes they accepted the verdict!!

The sanest question is: what made Jerry a wizard?

The story, to be more elaborate, was that the Pastor's wife had prophesized during one of the pregnant women prayer meetings that Jerry's mother will deliver a baby boy and that she is sure because the Holy Spirit has confirmed it to her. Unfortunately, however, rather than a baby boy, Jerry's mother gave birth to a baby girl. So, to cover up for the inadequacies of the 'Holy Spirit message', the Reverend's wife said it was Jerry that turned the male foetus into female, so that he will be the only one receiving the male preferential treatment.

Like most of his other colleagues at the CRARN Center, Jerry was BEATEN and TORTURED. In fact his father used petrol and fire to BURN him. He was also given CRUDE OIL to drink which made him purged for three days.

For a boy who aspires to be a Medical Doctor, but who was turned away from home into the streets, one will thought the journey has ended. But Jerry is now in high spirit with a better hope for the future.

Thanks to the many supports being given to the CRARN Center and of course whistle-blowing projects like that of the Stepping Stones of Nigeria and the Humanist Against Witch Killing (HAWK) of the Young Humanistas Network.

The likes of Jerry, Mary, and other over one hundred and seventy kids living in the CRARN center still need us. Our advocacy, moral and financial supports will go a long way in combating this menace.

YOU are OBVIOUSLY important in this CAUSE!

Thanks for all your supports, now and in the future!~

Yemi Ademowo Johnson

Friday, February 13, 2009

Darwin's Day Seminar partcipants Endorse HAWK

It was another plus for the YHN-HEF HAWK Campaign as participants at the Charles Darwin 200th Birthday Seminar tagged "Darwinism, Science Education and Contemporary 'Unscientific' African Beliefs" having discussed the topic, criticise the existence of such beliefs as witchcraft and its denigrating effect, witch hunting and stereotyping.

One of the speakers, Mr. Frank Ilevbare, son of a prominent Classist, who is a systems engineer, noted that the common place poverty and the recent global economic recession and the dearth of qualified science teachers are all some of the reason adduceable for the continued existence of the belief. Another speaker, Mr. Gbemileke, President of the Association of Faculty of Arts Students and Welfare Officer of the Ibadan Students Union, in his own submission opined that "effective promotion of science in junior schools will, with time, douse the continued existence of such beliefs which ae antithetical to African development.

Other speakers at the event posited that the Young Humanistas Network should work hand-in-hand with humanist focused groups and to some extent some liberal religious groups in advocating for the promotion of science education, most especially the theory of evolution in schools.

We want to thank everyone for the support thus far, it is surely not over until it is over!!

Yemi Ademowo J

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

HAWK in the News

Dear friend,
Find below a piece on HAWK Forum held last month.


Brand a child a witch/wizard in Akwa-Ibom, make N400,000

The menace of child witch-branding cum witch-killing is currently synonymous with the Niger Delta, particularly Akwa Ibom State. Many children who have fallen victim have gory tales to tell, and some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which have taken it upon themselves to tackle the menace appear to be hamstrung, reports Stephen Gbadamosi.

Imagine this spectacle: a crowd gathers around an 11-year-old girl, with some elders wielding sticks, clubbing her and commanding, "Confess, you bewitched your father. If you don't say the truth, you will die!" Then, a middle-aged man, perhaps the little girl's uncle, clears his way to the centre of the crowd, with a rough stone and a three-inch nail in his hands.

"If you won't confess, then you will simply die," he blurts out, standing the nail in the middle of the girl's head and ramming it into her skull with the stone. The crowd erupts in triumphant jubilation.

This is one of the kind of true-life experiences of the approximately 15,000 children that have been branded witches in Akwa Ibom State in recent times.

The concept of witchcraft is not new to Africa and, indeed, the world at large. This belief is as old as traditional societies themselves. As a result of the belief in witchcraft in primordial societies, the concept of wit ch-killing had arisen, a development that had seen many females, especially those who refused to confess to the allegations, being sent to early their graves. These allegations mostly derive from the belief that witches have supernatural powers to influence other people's lives, particularly in a negative way.

While history has it that witch-killing was pronounced during the middle-age Europe and early 20th century Africa. an NGO, Young Humanist Network, in association with Human Etosk Forbund (HEF) of Norway, recently said current information on the internet, available on, reveals that "Africa is, indeed, picking up the sad piece of European middle ages, despite advancements in science and technology."

Despite the fact that the Child Rights Bill has been passed into law by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, the child witch-branding saga has continued unabated in the state. In many parts of the world and in different places in Nigeria, people are oblivious of the fact that his barbaric practice still thrives in the richest, but probably the most backward, part of Nigeria. But activities of the NGOs, such as the YHN-HEF project and the Child Right and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) are exposing the obnoxious practice , particularly in the Niger Delta state of Akwa Ibom. CRARN, aided by a Briton, Gary Foxcroft, who came to Akwa Ibom for his Master's research project and later founded an NGO in the area while working in conjunction with YHN-HEF, blew the lid on the plight of witch-branded children in Akwa Ibom State.

Read more:

Thanks for your supports thus far!

Yemi Ademowo Johnson

Monday, February 2, 2009

The HAWK Project: Two Giant Strides

Dear friend,

Over the weekend the Board of YHN met and discussed on the project's grey areas for accountability and progress sake, below is the Board's decision concerning further funding for the project:

The YHN Board in the meeting of 30 January, 2009, decided that FURTHER financial support/donation for the HAWK project be of two folds, which should be clear to the supporters.

a. CWRF Fund, Child witches Rehabiltation Fund, the Board, based on the recommendation of the HAWK Committee, decides that financial support for the Rehabilitation, temporary feeding before family unification, housing, among others for the alleged childwitches should sent directly to CRARN, Child Right and Rehabilitation Network, based in Eket where the children are housed and catered for. This means that financial support for this purpose will have to be sent directly to/into the CRARN Zenith Bank account.

2. The YHN-HAWK Fund, in addition to the take-of financial support received from HEF, Oslo, the HAWK project also needed to oil its financial base, additional funding, most importantly as it hopes to organise an NATIONAL ANTI-CHILDWITCHES CONFERENCE/RALLY to mark the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, in UYO, Akwa-Ibom State, continue whistle blowing on the activities of the criminal pentecostal pastors, and also cover some expenses related to the probono legal services of its legal team.

Hence, the Board decides that support to the HAWK-AFRICA Project can be channeled to any of these two, CWRF and HAWK Fund.

To firm this decision the Board also requeted formal MOU signing between Young Humanist Network, Nigeria (YHN) and Child Rights and Rehabilitation Network (CRARN) on fund monitoring for accountability, for all funds received through HAWK's CWRF initiative. The account details of both organisations will be made public once this has been done (hopefully later in the week).

We will like to extend our sincere appreciation to (everyone of ) you, once again, for your unflinching supports.


Yemi Johnson